Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Sea Turtle Lapbook!

LOVE the paint job, A!

In April we went to watch the Leatherback turtles nest at Sandy Point. It was an amazing experience and if you want to read about read my earlier post.  In response to that experience, A and I started working on a lapbook about Sea Turtles. At first, I thought we might just make it about Leatherbacks, but then I decided that we might as well study all of the sea turtles out there. Not in depth mind you, but at least a brief overview of each type of sea turtle and their habitats, appearance, etc.  At some point, the lapbook got completely away from us and took on a life of its own.  I had to run away screaming and A lay hiding under the bed for about a month before we took it out again. To our relief, it had calmed down(oxygen deprivation maybe?) and we finished it. That experience went to show us how we could really get into a project and how it could take over. At one point I was up until 2a.m. looking up turtle anatomy….. Craziness!


A created all the pages on her own. She came up with the game page, and learned how to make holes and set eyelets.  She painted the turtle, cut, pasted, etc.  My favorite part is when we recreated a leatherback hatchling and made it weigh an average weight of a real hatchling.  We used Math, Reading, Geography, Social Studies, and Science in this project. We created Turtle poetry, measured a real turtle, read a science book on sea turtles, basically lived and breathed sea turtles for what seemed like AGES.  I think that a few of the pages might need some captions or some written explanation on them yet, but you know what? That’s OK, it’s her work of art and her work, so even I think it’s missing something I’m going to leave it the way it as. I can hope that she looks back in years to come and enjoys reading her very own Sea Turtle Lapbook!

Each scute has a vocab word under it with it's definition.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Horchata

How you might see it in Mexico,
 waiting to be served.
Horchata is drink made of rice from Mexico.  It is in my opinion the only to drink rice "milk" and not live to regret the taste. It has a vanillay, almondy, cinnamony goodness about it that coats your mouth and tongue and leaves you wanting more. It is the PERFECT drink for hot summer days and garden parties.

I used to beg my friends who went to Mexico to bring me back a bottle or two of the concentrated stuff, but with the new regulations in the airline industry that is just too difficult nowadays.  I have been searching and searching for a good recipe for ages. I tried a few times, but got frustrated and gave up.  until NOW!!! Thanks to Mely at Mexico in my Kitchen for posting a great Horchata recipe that has now become a staple in this household. I figured I'd post her recipe with my minor modifications here for you in case you wanted to try it.

Horchata

Day 1
2 cups of white long grain rice
4 cups of boiling hot water
ground cinnamon or 1 stick of whole cinnamon

Day 2
1/2 C white sugar
2 C whole milk
5 C water
1 large capful vanilla
1 small capful almond extract

Day 1 directions:

The day before you want to drink the Horchata, place the cups of rice(uncooked) in a large bowl, add the boiling water and cinnamon(if it's powdered add enough to cover the top of he surface of the water).  Wrap your bowl in plastic wrap and let it sit out on your counter for 24 hours.  REALLY. You NEED to do this 24 hours in advance for the best results.(if pressed for time, you can do 12 hours, but it's not as good).

The next day.......

Add your bowl of rice, cinnamon, and water to your blender and blend until you get a VERY watery paste.  Then blend again. Drain this mixture over a fine mesh sieve back into your original bowl.  Clean out your blender. Add about 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 small capful of almond extract, and 1.5 large capfuls of vanilla.  To this mix add about 2 ladlefuls of the drained rice "milk". Blend until the sugar is dissolved.  Add this back to our bowl of rice "milk".  stir to combine, then pour into a large pitcher. Add 2 cups whole milk and 5 cups of water.

At this point you have a choice, you can either put it in the fridge and wait for it to chill or you can grab the nearest glass and pour yourself a cup over ice, sit back and enjoy. Cleaning up the kitchen can wait until later.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Cinco de Mayo goodness


I know, Cinco de Mayo was four days ago.  I KNOW, this is a late post, but we were busy ok?  We don’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo in this house, and we didn’t really celebrate it growing up.  We sort of snickered at the dumb Gringos who thought that Cinco de Mayo was the independence of Mexico and then we tried to educate them. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Mean weren't we?

I have been feeling my Mexican roots lately and this has been reflected in my cooking and my blog reading. A has been getting extra Spanish classes and both A and C are eating even yummier food than before. In fact, C has taken to asking if things “pica” before biting in to them. This would include his three morning bowls of Cheerios! Crazy kid. Then again, milk with chiles might not be a bad way to start the day.....


Anyway, we were invited to a Cinco de Mayo party and I was bound and determined to bring something traditionally Mexican that was easy to make and super yummy.  Most, but not all Mexican food is labor intensive. It assumes that you have a muchacha or two working for you and that you can slave in the kitchen all day while someone else watches your kids. I WISH I had that……. Back to the food. Afer tossing around various ideas, I made up a batch of Chilaquiles. I LOVE Chilaquiles. My first memory of this dish was on a Aero Mexico flight from Miami to Cancun when I was studying abroad in Merida, Mexico.  They were amazing, they were hot, had a spicy red sauce, were sprinkled with cheese, and were airplane food!! Can you  imagine? GOOD airplane food???

Since I had decided to make these, I needed to go out and get the essentials. I had fresh local, organic tomatoes and green onions from Sejah Farms, a white onion, a bay leaf(also local), Oregano, salt pepper, and dried chipotle and chile de arbol peppers. I bought two rotisserie chickens, some crappy corn tortillas(they fry better), and the cheeses. I was set to begin cooking, but first I needed a drink - of Horchata (recipe to come) that is.

Here is the recipe I used:

Chilaquiles rojas

500g day-old tortillas, cut into triangles
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
6 tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
3 stalks of green onion
1 medium white onion
4 dried chipotle chiles soaked in boiling hot water to plump
2 dried chile de Arbol chiles also soaked in boiling hot water to plump
2 - 3 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 rotisserie chicken de meated
100g queso fresco plus 100 g Manchego cheese shredded
finely sliced onion rings, to serve
Frying the tortillas to make the chips.

1.        In a deep pan, heat the oil to around 180 degrees Celsius (or until an introduced tortilla strip fries rapidly). Add about a fifth of the cut tortillas and cook till crisp, repeat with the other 4 batches. Drain well.
2.        Place the tomatoes in a small sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water out, then puree the tomato, onion, green onion, garlic, chipotle, chile de arbol, bay and oregano together.
3.        Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a wide saucepan, and carefully add the pureed mixture. Add some salt, then fry for 5-8 minutes or until the color of the sauce starts to darken.
Finished sauce.
4.        Add the tortilla chips, chicken, and Manchego (you will need quite a large pan to stir the sauce through thoroughly) and mix gently, trying not to break up the chips too much.
5.        Add to 350 degree preheated oven and bake until the sauce is warm and cheese has melted.

6.        Sprinkle with cilantro queso fresco, and onion slices, serve.

It was super picante and it was great! I totally want to make a batch for breakfast this weekend, but we have a swim meet planned so it may have to be a mid week dinner dish, with less pica for the kids.

photo from delatierra.com


Viva Mexico! Ole!!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Triathlon madness!

View of the harbor as the athletes will see it on Sunday. 
 It's that time of year again.  The roads are getting paved, the bush is getting wacked from the sides of the road, and there are orange spray painted marking on the asphalt.  It's time for the St. Croix 70.3 Half Ironman!!!
Pre race talk.

This is such a great, fun event for everyone - sporty and not.  We get tons of people visiting the island from all over the world in the hopes of securing a spot in a full ironman, there are people at the restaurants, people running and cycling on the roads, and a festive quality to downtown.

When I was younger - high school aged and before, I would volunteer to help in the transition area. in those days, the transition area was held in the old fort parking lot that took up much of the waterfront. We had to report to "work" the day or two before the triathlon to sweep the parking lot, set up the bike racks, set up the barricades, and gawk at all the hot bodies. It was a teenager's dream come true. Actually, some of the older women were in heaven too.  I haven't been able to volunteer since I graduated from high school because I was in college, or once back and married -preferred to stay snuggled in bed with S, but now that A is old enough, and sleeping in is 6 am, I figured we needed to start giving back and doing our part.  That said, if you need water when leaving the transition area, we are your people :)

Pollito - all the triathletes know him
by name thanks to C!
Yesterday was part 2 of the warm up swim, and A and I swam it while C waited on shore with my Mom and his new found friend Pollito(a slowly dying baby chick that we found on the roadside).  THANKS Mom!

We hoped to not only make it around the 750m course in less than 30 minutes, but to also get to rub goggles with Lance Armstrong. Yes, you heard me - Lance Armstrong.  The man himself is here.  I remember seeing him win the "Beauty and the Beast" triathlon when I was in high school. Now he is back and we are wishing him well.  If he does win, and I hope he does, it will bring a boost to our little island next year as more competitors will come.  Right now we average about 300 athletes, but in the beginning we sometimes had upwards of 800! Can you imagine that?
What I saw most of the swim

Anyway, it was fun and it stopped raining long enough for us to want to jump into that cold harbor water.  Yeah, it's still cold for us. I know, I hear the tiny violins playing in the background.  Anyway, I haven't swum in the harbor for YEARS.  The last time I was there it was pretty barren, but yesterday we saw starfish, 2 juvenile French Angel fish, Sargent Majors, Blue Tang, Sea Urchins the size of my head, and many other fish.  It was cool.  We had to swim through seaweed though - and I HATE that.  A did well on the swim despite wanting to turn back at one point, and I did well despite running her over constantly! Once we got out, A said it fine and she'd do it again! Good girl!

Sadly, we didn't see Lance.  I heard he had done a private swim and was biking the island. Maybe we'll go hunt him down?
Hot body for my friend Anna,
who is missing the race this year.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Learning how to be a Gypsy


A Flaming Gypsy that is! The last PE Day that we had for the homeschoolers was a blast!  Kiki and her band of flaming gypsy girls came and showed our kids how to move and groove with hula hoops.  A was super excited to have Kiki, LaurelLee, and Kelly there to work their stuff. The ladies, got all the kids out on the basket ball court and pretty quickly the kids were doing some fun hula hoop moves, using the Poi and basically having fun while exploring a new skill. 



At first the boys and older high schoolers were resistant to hooping in front of others, but Kiki got them into a big circle and we learned how to make circles with our bodies and then we played a quick game of ball juggling where each child had to toss a ball to someone else while calling out their name. Once the first ball was halfway through the circle, another ball was thrown into the mix until there were 3 or 4 balls going at the same time.  After a while, the groups switched, and even the “I’m too cool for this” boys were hula hooping.  I call that success – don’t you?

Probably the best thing to come of Kiki and her lovely ladies visiting us is that they would like to start a kids troupe, so of course A is SUPER SUPER excited!  A few other parents that I have talked to want to have their children join so I predict that if we can keep the momentum going there will be some gypsettes by the next parade.  How fun is that? Even C got in on the action.

If you want to see Kiki in action, she will be at the Comanche Mill at sunset this Friday during Jump Up.  She also holds open practice sessions every Tuesday starting at 7 at Above the Cliff on the Northshore. Hope to see you there some time!

video